ABSTRACT Background: Even though NIR fluorescence imaging has many advantages in SLN mapping and cancer detection, NIR fluorescence imaging shows a serious drawback that NIR cannot be detected by the naked eye without any detectors. This limitation further disturbs accurate SLN detection and adequate tumor resection resulting in the presence of cancerous cells near the boundaries of surgically removed tissues. Materials and methods: To overcome the drawback of the conventional NIR imaging method, we suggest a novel NIR imaging system which can make the NIR fluorescence image visible to the naked eye as NIR fluorescence image detected by a video camera is processed by a computer and then projected back onto the NIR fluorescence excitation position with a projector using conspicuous color light. Image processing techniques were used for projection onto the exact position of the NIR fluorescence image. Also, we implemented a phantom experiment to evaluate the performance of the developed NIR fluorescence projection system by use of the ICG. Results: The developed NIR fluorescence projection system was applied in normal mouse model to confirm the usefulness of the system in the clinical field. A BALB/c nude mouse was prepared to be applied in normal mouse model and 0.25 mg/ml stock solution of the ICG was injected through a tail vein of the mouse. From the application in normal mouse model, we could confirm that the injected ICG stayed in the liver of the mouse and verify that the projection system projected the ICG fluorescence image at the exact location of the ICG by performing laparotomy of the mouse. Conclusions: From the application in normal mouse model, we could verify that the ICG fluorescence image was precisely projected back on the site where ICG fluorescence generated. It can be demonstrated that the NIR fluorescence projection system can make it possible to visualize the invisible NIR fluorescence image and to realize that SLN mapping and cancer detection in clinical surgery.
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